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Pioneering Progress Through Education

:: Wednesday, October 5, 2022 :: Posted By Mary Beth Garrison

Supporting local education and creating learning opportunities are fundamental to how U.S. Borax serves the communities in which we operate.

We believe pioneering progress starts with empowering the next generation with the knowledge they need to succeed. U.S. Borax supports both collegiate endeavors and skills trades education programs—as both pursuits help build a strong workforce.

With school in full swing across the United States, it’s a perfect time to look back on our education legacy—and create future plans to support learners—and create programs to support workforce development..

A humble start

In the early 1900s, mining camps were rugged and remote—not exactly ideal conditions for a school.

Children of miners at the Ryan Camp school
However, one of our early company leaders thought differently. Harry Gower didn’t see why one our largest mining sites (Ryan Camp) couldn’t have modern offerings such as a school, store, and recreation hall.

After building the school, Harry asked his wife, Pauline, to become the teacher of the one-room schoolhouse.

The school was a model for inclusivity at the time. Children of miners and the local Timbisha Shoshone Native American tribe were encouraged to come. Attendance grew and grew, prompting a second school at nearby Furnace Creek to balance the number of students at each site.

Since then, we’ve continued to find ways to connect students to learning opportunities. Operational staff are featured speakers in area classrooms; a mining activity book is available for classroom study; and team members provide rich knowledge and mentoring at STEM events in Kern, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties.

Advancing modern education

Recent efforts to support education mirror that same pioneering spirit exhibited in the one-room schoolhouse. We’re proud to have several programs to help today’s students.

Scholarships

For more than two decades, the U.S. Borax Visitor Center Foundation has awarded scholarships to seniors graduating from Boron High School.

Scholarship recipients have applied their funds to a diverse set of advanced educational opportunities. Past winners have attended traditional four-year universities, nursing school, culinary programs, and pursued technical training related to mining.

The Foundation also awards thousands of dollars in grants each year. The funding is intended to improve public education, health and human services, and historic preservation.

Donations

Lab equipment such as beakers and test tubes can be expensive. To help meet the need for such equipment, the mine donates gently-used equipment from the U.S. Borax Quality Laboratory to school districts both in and outside of our core communities.

We also partner with the Wilmington Boys and Girls Club, funding after-school projects and handing out backpacks filled with school supplies.

Back to school event at the Wilmington Boys and Girls Club

Field trips

We reimburse transportation costs for schools, wanting to visit the U.S. Borax Visitor Center, but have limited funds. Before their arrival, they are prepped for the visit through a “Virtual Mine Tour” video and an exclusively written and designed activity book.

Classroom experiments

U.S. Borax employee conducting experiment in science classWho doesn’t love immersive experiments? Two employees from the U.S. Borax Quality Department travel to area schools, leading students through experiments that resemble activities that take place in our labs.

Classroom learning

Even if we’re unable to travel to schools, we still find creative ways to support classroom learning. One Victorville teacher enjoys receiving activity books and ore samples to fuel student’s passion for learning, spark new appreciation for mining, and recognize borax’s ubiquitous nature.

 

Remote learning

To protect students’ health and safety, the Muroc School District switched to 100% remote learning shortly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A major disruption turned into an inspirational opportunity, as we donated $200,000 to buy 900 new Chromebook tablets for students to use at home.

Restoring a community centerpiece

In the Muroc School District, where temperatures regularly soar over 100 degrees, the lone swimming pool is a great educational asset.

Sadly, a pandemic-forced closure and the harsh desert climate enacted its toll on the pool, which fell into an inoperable state.

Together, U.S. Borax and the community raised a total of $330,000 for repairs. The money is enough to rebuild the pool. In addition, U.S. Borax funded the re-building of the adjacent lock room facilities—implementing features to make it ADA accessible.

U.S. Borax Visitor Center

Throughout the years, thousands of students have immersed themselves in the educational displays at the U.S. Borax Visitor Center. Located at our mine, visitors can experience Boron operations from an ADA accessible overlook.

Empowering the next generation

We’re looking forward to serving our community by investing in new educational opportunities, ensuring students of all backgrounds, learning styles, and abilities receive chances to learn.

Of course, learning is a lifelong pursuit. U.S. Borax embraces this concept by supporting our employees with robust skilled trades training. One example of this is our paid, in-house training for millwright/welding and electrical/instrumentation specialties.

Education is important to U.S. Borax. It’s important for people to understand how we impact their lives—every day. Whether they work at U.S. Borax or not, we hope they gain an understanding of the value of mining and the value of the product to their life. It’s priceless.

Learn for yourself

Curious to increase your own knowledge about borate mining? Read the blogs on the U.S. Borax history page.

Or, better yet, plan a trip to our Borax Visitor Center and experience the one of the world’s largest borate mines up close.

 

Resources

U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.  Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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